We explain what a third lockdown mean for motorists – This is Money

With England plunged into a third national lockdown, drivers will again be wondering what it means for them.

While it might be assumed that the same measures will be in place as those introduced last March and November, there are some significant differences this time around.

This is Money has all provided the answers to the questions motorists might be asking as they prepare for a third spell under the tightest Covid-19 restrictions. 

What does a third lockdown mean for drivers? We have answered all the pressing questions motorists might have...

What does a third lockdown mean for drivers? We have answered all the pressing questions motorists might have...

What does a third lockdown mean for drivers? We have answered all the pressing questions motorists might have…

Can I drive my car at all? 

Motorists are allowed to use their car, though only for specific reasons that have been approved by the Government as ‘reasonable excuses’. 

Parents who are essential or key workers can also drive for childcare purposes or to take their kids to school and motorists are also allowed behind the wheel to attend medical appointments or assist an elderly or vulnerable person. 

Other reasons you can drive include volunteering, taking your pet to the vets, worship and ‘life events’ such as weddings and funeral, though while adhering to separate guidance for these occasions.

You can also travel to be with someone who is giving birth, to avoid injury or illness, escape domestic abuse and to visit someone who is dying. 

People are also allowed to drive if they are moving home

With schools closed during the third lockdown, only parents who are deemed key workers are allowed to transport their children for education purposes

With schools closed during the third lockdown, only parents who are deemed key workers are allowed to transport their children for education purposes

With schools closed during the third lockdown, only parents who are deemed key workers are allowed to transport their children for education purposes

Drivers are instructed to not go for a drive with no reason but simply to get out of the house – it doesn’t count as exercise – and should only get behind the wheel for one of the approved allowances listed above.

Otherwise they could face fines if stopped by the police. However, there are big question marks about how this could be enforced.

Drivers are also warned that if they do need to head out on the road, such as travelling to a location to travel, they should stay local, meaning avoiding leaving their village, town or the part of a city where they live. Motorists should also ‘look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall’, the guidance states.  

The police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, and issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice) of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. 

As with the lockdown enforced from March and in November, there are no plans to close roads. 

If you do have to car share for any reason, drivers and told they and their passenger(s) should wear a face covering

If you do have to car share for any reason, drivers and told they and their passenger(s) should wear a face covering

If you do have to car share for any reason, drivers and told they and their passenger(s) should wear a face covering

Can I give someone outside my houehold a lift?

Motorists should also only carry passengers from their own household in their cars, or those that are within their support bubble.

Because it is difficult to socially distance during car journeys, government has also outlined other measures motorists need to take if it is essential to give lifts. These include:

  • Share the transport with the same people each time 
  • Minimise the group size at any one time 
  • Open windows for ventilation 
  • Travel side by side or behind other people, rather than facing them, where seating arrangements allow 
  • Face away from each other 
  • Consider seating arrangements to maximise distance between people in the vehicle
  • Clean your car between journeys using standard cleaning products – make sure you clean door handles and other areas that people may touch 
  • Wear a face covering

Garages will remain open as they are categorised as an essential businesses. This means servicing and MOTs can carry on as normal, with no need for another test exemption

Garages will remain open as they are categorised as an essential businesses. This means servicing and MOTs can carry on as normal, with no need for another test exemption

Garages will remain open as they are categorised as an essential businesses. This means servicing and MOTs can carry on as normal, with no need for another test exemption

Can I still get my car serviced and MOT tested?

Unlike the original lockdown at the beginning of last year, garages will remain open throughout the third lockdown.

Vehicle servicing and MOT testing services are among those classified by government as essential businesses that can remain open. 

It means there will be no repeat of a MOT test extension period that was put in place from 30 March to 30 September. 

Fuel stations will remain open for the duration of the lockdown, though traffic volumes are expected to drop again as the tougher restrictions are imposed

Fuel stations will remain open for the duration of the lockdown, though traffic volumes are expected to drop again as the tougher restrictions are imposed

Fuel stations will remain open for the duration of the lockdown, though traffic volumes are expected to drop again as the tougher restrictions are imposed

Will petrol stations remain open during third lockdown?

Petrol stations are included on the list of essential businesses that will remain open – including those at motorway services. 

When the first lockdown was in put in place at the end of March, the price of fuel plunged due to a massive drop in demand and oversupply or petrol and diesel.

Independent filling stations – especially those in rural areas – were on the brink of being closed due to the impact of traffic levels plummeting and the price of petrol fell below £1-a-litre for the first time in four years. 

However, during the second lockdown in November, there was no repeat of this, with retailers avoiding oversupply and storage issues.

With a third lockdown in place, the one-month period is unlikely to have the same impact. 

It should be noted that motorists continue to be advised to wear gloves while filling up. 

Car washes that are attached to petrol stations will be allowed to remain open. However, hand car washes are closed

Car washes that are attached to petrol stations will be allowed to remain open. However, hand car washes are closed

Car washes that are attached to petrol stations will be allowed to remain open. However, hand car washes are closed

Will I be able to get my car washed at a petrol station after filling up with fuel?

Automatic car washes that are attached to petrol stations can remain open during this lockdown, though manual hand-wash locations are to be closed.

Brian Madderson, chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) and Car Wash Association (CWA), said: ‘A vehicle with clean windows and mirrors definitely improves road safety, especially in these dark and dirty winter months. This is so important for essential workers, including NHS and all other medical staff.’

Both new and used car dealers have been forced to close their showroom doors to customers during the third lockdown, though can still provide click & collect services

Both new and used car dealers have been forced to close their showroom doors to customers during the third lockdown, though can still provide click & collect services

 Both new and used car dealers have been forced to close their showroom doors to customers during the third lockdown, though can still provide click & collect services

Will I be able to buy a new car?

Car dealers and showrooms will be forced to close during the third lockdown in England, though can continue to provide home deliveries and click-and-collect sales.

This means motorists will be able to place orders for new cars online and collections will be made – socially distanced – outside of the dealership premises. 

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, spoke out about vehicle showrooms being forced to shut during previous lockdowns and tightened restrictions.

‘Auto manufacturing must have its showrooms open; its proven safe and secure, a very different environment from other retail premises. We need to keep the economy turning – safely – and prevent wider job losses,’ he said back in November.

The National Franchised Dealers Association confirmed it had also written to the government to request showrooms can keep their doors ajar, with the argument that they are no different to garden centres, which continue to operate during lockdown.

It argues that manufacturers and franchised networks have spent millions to introduce measures to allow for social distancing and to make their locations Covid-secure.

Driving lessons and tests have been suspended for the duration of the third lockdown across the country

Driving lessons and tests have been suspended for the duration of the third lockdown across the country

Driving lessons and tests have been suspended for the duration of the third lockdown across the country

Will driving lessons and tests be suspended again? 

Both driving lessons and tests are off-limits for the entirety of the third lockdown – including for key workers. Driving lessons will also not be allowed to take place.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has confirmed that the restrictions on lessons and tests apply to Wales and Scotland, where national lockdowns are also in place. 

‘We’ll contact candidates with further information about their test as soon as possible. We will update you as soon as the government makes further announcements,’ the agency said.

My driving licence is about to expire – will I be able to get a new one?

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) last year extended the validity of photocard driving licences as it struggled to provide services to motorists with much of the Swansea-based workforce operating a home-working policy.

An 11-month extension was put in place for those licences that were due to expire between between 1 February and 31 December 2020, however motorists with licences due to end in 2021 will need to apply via the DVLA website. 

Vehicle manufacturing, including the Bentley factory in Crewe (pictured), will continue to operate during the third lockdown

Vehicle manufacturing, including the Bentley factory in Crewe (pictured), will continue to operate during the third lockdown

Vehicle manufacturing, including the Bentley factory in Crewe (pictured), will continue to operate during the third lockdown

Will car production continue at factories?

UK vehicle plants will be allowed to keep production lines running though the third lockdown with manufacturing included in the list of work places deemed fit to continue operating during the third lockdown.

The Government has said that anyone who is unable to work from home – singling out those employed in the manufacturing sector in particular –  should continue to travel to their work places. 

‘This is essential to keeping the country operating and supporting vital sectors and employers,’ the Cabinet Office’s guidance states. 

While this is positive news for UK car making, most manufacturers are still limited by the number of staff allowed on shifts due to social distancing requirements, while a stricter machinery sanitising process has also slowed assembly lines in recent months. 

*This is Money will continue to update this page as more information becomes available in the lead-up to the lockdown being imposed on Thursday 5 November. 

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